A while back, I mentioned that I was starting work on a new book called “Computer vision with OpenCV & C#”. Since that announcement, I have received a lot of feedback from readers interested in the book. At the same time, I have also received almost as much interest in the tool I’m using to write the book. Almost every person I have answered this question for was surprised to learn that I’m actually using an application I designed myself. That brings me to the purpose of this post. I want to take a minute to share with you my application as some of you might find it useful as well.
For many writers, tools like Microsoft Office (Word) are more than enough for writing. However, I’m not a typical writer. I’m a programmer. I’m a true, natural born coder. And for that, I decided to write my own tool to help me with my writing. Now, I know that there are plenty of commercial and even some free applications already out there that are designed to to assist with writing books and such. But, I still felt like I needed a tool to call my own. That’s when the “Book Builder” was born.
Book Builder is a simple C# application that assists in the creation and maintenance of writing books, but can also be used for much more. The tool is a simple text editor complete with spell check and is currently capable of exporting to TXT, HTML, and PDF. In the near future, I will also be adding the ability to publish directly to WordPress. The tool begins with you creating a new book. Once you have your new book created, you can add as many chapters as you want in the list on the left. As you add new chapters, the Table of Contents is auto-updated to reflect each chapter. The TOC even updates in-real-time as you change the chapter names. You can re-order your chapters by simply dragging and dropping the chapters in the list on the left.
When you export to PDF, each chapter is started on a new page. PDFs include a “first page” that includes the title of your book and the author’s name. Each page after the Table of Contents includes auto-generated page numbers and the time and date the PDF was generated. In a future release, these auto-generated timestamps and page numbers will be customizable and can be completely omitted if desired. In the next couple of days, I also plan on auto-linking chapters in the TOC directly to the pages that each chapter is on in the exported PDF. I will also be including an auto-generated Appendix that can be modified by the user, but will auto-update page numbers as you modify your book.
One of the cool features of the program as it stands is the ability to easily switch between chapters. When working in tools like Word, you have to scroll forever until you get to the chapter you want to work on. With this tool, you can jump between chapters by simply clicking the chapter name in the list on the left. You can even do this without having to save each chapter before navigating to another. In the next version, I will be including an indicator next to chapter names to signal chapters that have not been saved. I will also be allowing you to save individual chapters one at a time or all chapters at the same time.
As mentioned earlier, the tool comes complete with a spell checker. However, spell check currently only works for the chapter you currently have selected. In a future version, I will allow you to spell check the entire book and not have to check each chapter individually. The spell checker is a fully functional utility that even allows you to add new words to your dictionary. When words are flagged as being misspelled, the word is highlighted red as shown below.
I still have a lot of work to do before the tool is production ready. But, you can still download a copy of it as it is today to play around with. After I add the features already mentioned above, I still have to add some other basic functionality such as formatting. Once all of this is in place, I’ll come back here and post a link to the newest version and will also be providing the source code for others to work with. Until then, feel free to grab a copy of the tool from http://www.prodigyproductionsllc.com/downloads/BookBuilder.zip. And, as always, let me know what you think about it in the comments below.
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